tv U.S. Senate CSPAN February 13, 2013 5:00pm-8:00pm EST
what he said ten years ago. he's going to say what are my options? what's your advice? you know about war better than anyone, you know about military policy, you know about international security, you know about the interaction of diplomacy and environmental policy, give me your judgment, i have to make a decision. and i believe reflecting what the senator, my chairman, carl levin, has said, in this difficult moment, the president of the united states needs a secretary of defense to provide that kind of perspective, and the men and women of the department of defense have to have the ability to have their voice heard decisively and definitively in those serious discussions, particularly about the deployment of military force. i am as i said, extremely confident he can do this. now, let me also say that i
have -- i am impressed with those who have served our country in diplomatic and military roles that have endorsed chuck hagel strongly and enthusiastically. men and women who served in both democratic and republican administrations. among them, bob gates, william cohen, madeleine albright, bill perry, thomas pickering. these are women who have -- men and women who devoted themselves to protecting the united states. they've done it with extraordinary energy and effectiveliness. in this list of our secretaries defense that will rank as the best we've ever had. they have absolute confidence that chuck hagel can and should do this job. you have in this list ambassadors who have handled the
delicate, difficult issues involving international diplomacy. you have several ambassadors who have been ambassadors to the state of israel who strongly support senator hagel. all these individuals know him, they know perhaps as well if not better than many of my colleagues and myself the threats, the dangers and opportunities that face this country and they are strongly supporting chuck hagel. in fact, they have concluded, in a letter, that he is uniquely qualified to meet the challenges facing the department of defense and our men and women in uniform. there has been a lot of discussion about chuck hagel's appreciation of the strong and important and critical relationship between the united states and the state of israel, and all i can say is i was so impressed by the comments of the deputy israeli foreign minister, dani alianne, who also was the
ambassador to washington, who has met and dealt with senator hagel on a number of issues involving the relationship with the united states and what the deputy foreign minister said, in his words, "i have met him many times and he certainly regards israel as a true and natural u.s. ally." in another quote, he said, "i know hagel personally. i think he believes in the relationship and the natural partnership between israel and the united states." here is an israeli patriot who has spent a great deal of time devoted to the relationship with the united states of israel who understand, in his words, and concludes that chuck hagel regards israel as a true and natural u.s. ally and will act accordingly. he is a dedicated patriot. he is an individual who has served this country in so many different ways and i support his
nomination, urge my colleagues to do the same. i think, too, it's important to state that this nomination, as we've done with every secretary of defense for decades, deserves an up-or-down vote on the floor of the united states senate. people may choose to cast a vote against him for many reasons. that's the prerogative of a senator. but i strongly believe that if we want to stay true to the traditions of this body and to the presumption that the president should be at least allowed to have his nominee voted up and down, then we have to bring this vote to the floor of the senate for an up-or-down vote as quickly as possible. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor.
the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to enter spew into a colloquy with my colleague from maine, senator collins. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. shaheen: thank you. we are here today, senator collins and i, because we agree that we must take action in this
body and in this congress to avoid sequestration. sequestration is a term we've all been throwing around and it refers to the automatic cuts that are scheduled to text effect on march the 1st. -- to take effect on march the 1st. those cuts were designed to force congress to make a tough decision and to take comprehensive action on our debt and deficits. now, i think we agree that there's no question we need a comprehensive and balanced plan to put us on a more sustainable fiscal path. i think that plan should look at all areas of spending. it should look at domestic, mandatory and defense. as well as comprehensive tax reform. and i think there are many areas of bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction, including controlling the long-term cost of health care. unfortunately, congress has missed several opportunities to enact a long-term plan to get
our debt and deficits under control. that's why we are again facing a deadline at the end of this month to address those automatic cuts. and as a result, we're starting to see the very real and negative consequences of our inaction. we're seeing it on our national security. we're seeing it on our economy, as businesses and agencies alike begin to prepare for the automatic cuts under sequestration. earlier this week, senator collins and i -- actually, it was last week, senator collins and i wrote to the leadership in the senate urging bipartisan action on sequestration and the need to find a better approach. in our letter, we talked about the impacts that we're starting to see in new hampshire and maine, including the threat to jobs and to our national security and to the portsmouth naval shipyard, which is
critical not only to new hampshire and maine but also to this country's national security. we called attention to the drastic effects that we face for our economy, for our jobs and for our national security. and today we are here to reiterate the importance of addressing sequestration and doing it now. i want to thank the senior senator from maine, my colleague, for joining me here today to talk about this important issue, and i'm looking forward to hearing her remarks. i know it's something that she cares about as much as i do and as much as i think most of the members of this chamber care about. ms. collins: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. first, let me say that i'm very pleased to join with my friend and colleague from new hampshire to speak out against the
indiscriminate, meat-ax cuts known in washington as sequestration, that are scheduled to take effect in just two weeks' time. we simply must take action to avoid this self-inflicted harm to our economy and to our national security. but what i find inexplicable is a growing acceptance that sequestration is going to go into effect despite the fact that virtually everyone should concede that across-the-board cuts where we don't set priorities do not make sense. there are good programs that deserve to be preserved. there are programs that have
outlived their usefulness and should be eliminated. and then there are programs that could be cut and reduced. but that's not the approach we're taking. we're not going through the budget in a careful way, identifying programs that could be eliminated or reduced; setting priorities and making investments. no, we're allowing to go into effect across-the-board cuts that fall disproportionately on the department of defense. and, indeed, we're already seeing the effects of these cuts on our military, because each of the military services has begun planning for the likelihood of deep budget cuts. the navy is preparing for a civilian hiring freeze and cutting workers at shipyards and base operating support
facilities. now, mr. president, i want to be clear exactly who these employees are. these are the nuclear engineers, the welders, the metal trades workers repairing submarines and ships at the navy's four public shipyards, including the portsmouth navy shipyard in my home state of maine which employees half of its work force from my colleague's state of new hampshire. i know that the senior senator from new hampshire shares the concern about this particular installation on the border we share, but of course the damage of sequestration extends far beyond just one installation or two states. just this morning, i was over at the pentagon and i took advantage of the opportunity to
sit down with the navy's top ship-building official to discuss what the impact of sequestration would be for our naval fleet. well, one example we've already seen. the navy will keep the u.s.s. abraham lincoln, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, in port rather than repairing and deploying it. across the fleet, the navy is being forced to reduce deployments, maintenance and overhauls for critical repairs. when we look at the ship-building budget, it is evident that sequestration and the continuation of a partial year funding resolution known as the continuing resolution would be absolutely devastating for our navy, for shipbuilding and
for our skilled industrial base, and that includes bath ironworks in maine which i'm so proud of which builds the best destroyers in the world. and this has consequences, not only for our work force but also for our national security. it's important to note that secretary panetta has made clear that allowing these sweeping cuts to go into effect would be -- quote -- "devastateing -- devastating in his words and would badly damage the readiness of the united states military. the fact is defense has already taken a huge reduction in future spending. the defense budget has been cut and is slated to be cut by $460 billion over ten years, and that is before sequestration. when this number is added to the
defense cuts scheduled to begin on march 1, we are looking at an enormous impact on the -- our national security. now, it's important to recognize that we're not saying that the national debt is not a problem. certainly, when you have a $16.4 trillion debt, that is not sustainable, and the national debt is a security concern in its own right. just last year, in 2012, the federal government spent $223 billion in interest payments alone. that means we're spending more on interest on the national debt each month than we spend in an entire year on naval shipbuilding and the coast guard budget. just think about that.
the interest payment in one month exceeds the entire coast guard budget and the entire budget for shipbuilding in the navy. and the estimates are by the middle of this decade, not some distant year, our interest payments to china, our largest foreign creditor, at $1.2 trillion will be covering the entire cost of that communist country's military. think of the horrific irony of that. at the same time that america is bound by treaties to defend our allies in asia against chinese aggression, the american taxpayers are bankrolling the threat through the interest payments that we are paying to the chinese. now, mr. president, neither the senator from new hampshire or i are saying that the pentagon
should be exempt from budget scrutiny or even future cuts, but the disproportionate impact that sequestration would have on our troops, on our national security is dangerous and it must be averted, and the department cannot continue to operate on a continuing resolution that increases costs, prevents long-term planning and makes it impossible for the department to function effectively. i would yield to my colleague from new hampshire to expand on some of these points, and then we will talk further about the impact. mrs. shaheen: thank you, senator collins, and thank you for really laying out what we're seeing in terms of the potential impact of those automatic cuts.
i mean, the comment and the statistic you had about china and what they're going to be able to do with the money that we're paying them is really eye opening and scary. you know, you talked about some of the impact that we're beginning to see at the portsmouth naval shipyard. as you pointed out, it's something very important both to maine and new hampshire. it employs about 4,000 workers, almost evenly split between our two states, and as a result of the sequestration, starting march 1, one of their major projects, the repair of the u.s.s. miami, which was damaged in a fire, is going to be halted immediately, just stopped 16 days from now. the navy's going to cut over 1,100 temporary civilian workers, mostly from shipyards like portsmouth. and the needed maintenance and military construction will be postponed indefinitely. and it's not just about those
jobs at the portsmouth naval shipyard or at the shipyards across the country, but that has a ripple effect across our economy and it affects the grocery stores and the restaurants and all of the small contractors and small businesses who are doing work at those shipyards. there will be ramifications for our national defense across the services. yesterday, we had some really harrowing testimony in front of the armed services committee from all of the chiefs of the military outlining what they see coming as the result of the consequences of the sequester and of the continuing resolution that you talked about. d.o.d.-wide, so across the department, they expect to lay off a significant portion of the 46,000 temporary and term employees. all services and agencies will likely have to furlough most
d.o.d. civilian employees for up to 22 working days. i mean, imagine that. that's a whole month of paychecks that those workers are not going to have to support their families, to be able to spend into the economy, and that's going to have a huge impact. it's possible that d.o.d. might not have enough funds to pay for tricare for health care coverage for our veterans through the end of the fiscal year, and as we saw on the front pages of the paper this week, the department delayed the deployment of the u.s.s. harry truman, the carrier strike group that was headed to the persian gulf. if sequestration goes into full effect, the navy will shrink by about 50 ships and at least two carrier groups. by the end of the year, the navy, if we do nothing, will lose about 350 workers a week or 1,400 a month from our civilian
industrial base. that was have a huge impact in new hampshire. i know it will in maine as well. so there are real significant impacts, as you pointed out, on the defense industry, on this country's national security and on the domestic side of the budget. it's already starting to have ramifications on our economy and job growth. we saw in the last quarter of 2012 that our economy contracted for the first time since 2009, and much of that decline was due to sharp reductions in government spending in anticipation of the sequester coming into effect. we saw it in new hampshire and some of our businesses that are dependent on government contracts, particularly in the defense industry. so our failure to act is not only irresponsible but it's beginning to have a real impact in slowing down this economy.
it's simply unacceptable that we are not addressing this. we need to act. if we let the sequester go into effect, we stand to lose, according to the congressional budget office, up to 1.4 million jobs. a recent forecast from macroeconomic advisors suggests that sequestration would reduce our gross domestic product by .7 percentage points this year. we can't risk putting our economic recovery in jeopardy with these indiscriminate cuts. they're going to have an impact on research and education vital to our ability to grow this economy and remain competitive. the national institutes of health will face a $2.5 billion cut. they would have to halt or curtail scientific research, including needed research into cancer and childhood diseases. the centers for disease control and prevention would see a
$464 million cut. state and local communities would lose billions in federal education funding for title 1 for special education grants and for other programs, and as many as 100,000 children will lose their places in head start, 25,000 teachers could lose their jobs. we see -- we will see those impacts immediately in maine and new hampshire. i want to turn it back to you, senator collins, to share what you're seeing in maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. first, i want to commend the senator from new hampshire for broadening the debate and reminding all of us of the macroeconomic impact, as well as the impact on our two states. in maine, the estimate is that maine's defense industry -- that
includes not just the portsmouth naval shipyard and bath ironworks and our pratt and whitney plant but a lot of smaller contractors and suppliers, that as many as 4,000 jobs could be lost as a result of sequestration. think about that. that means that as you pointed out, these are people who are supporting their families, who are supporting other businesses in the community, the impact, the ripple effect is just devastating. that's why it does not surprise me that the congressional budget office has pointed to sequestration as a primary cause for the slow growth that we have seen already and that c.b.o. projects that our economy would grow at a faster rate, at 2% if
we averted sequestration. and these are meaningless numbers. they affect real people. the estimates are that we would lose between 1.4 million and two million jobs if this is allowed to go into effect nationwide. and it's also a failure on the part of washington to make decisions. if we are going to allow these mindless, indiscriminate cuts to go into effect, why are we here? we might as well have computers or robots making decisions for us. our job is to do the hard, painful work of setting priorities and making decisions. and that's why i am so
frustrated by the approach that we appear on the verge of taking. and the senator from new hampshire makes some very important points. while the department of defense would take a disproportionate impact from sequestration, and i'm extremely concerned about that, there are other important programs that would be affected as well. the superintendent's groups in maine have met with me and talked about what it would mean for school children in maine if halfway through the school year, more than halfway through the school year, all of a sudden they get a reduction in title 1 money that goes to low-income schools, in special education grants, in other important programs, such as head start, trio programs which helps
low-income and first-generation students attend and excel in college. think about the low-income home energy assistance program, biomedical research that is so critical, cuts in the f.a.a. workforce that could reduce air traffic control, disrupting air traffic during the busy summer months -- the list goes on and on. essential, education, health care, research, transportation programs that deserve support, that don't deserve to all be treated the same. and, again, i want to emphasize that we recognize that spending must be cut and that the debt at $16.4 trillion is way, way out of control. that amounts to something like $52,000 for each man, woman, and
child in this country. we are committed to seeking pragmatic solutions through compromise and to avoiding this devastation of our economy and our national security. we recognize that we have to look at all areas of spending and that we need to overhaul our tax code and make it more progrowth, simpler, and fairer. if ever there were a moment when members of congress and the president should put aside their politics for the greater good of the nation, now is the time. so i, for one, want to thank the senator from new hampshire for caring so much about this issue, and we have agreed to work together and continue to work together to address this. these automatic cuts were never supposed to take effect. i remember being told, don't
worry; it's never going to happen; it's too unpalatable; it'll just never occur. well, they were supposed to force us to make the difficult decisions necessary to put our economy on a sound footing and to deal with our unsustainable debt. our nation's leaders, the president, democrats, and republicans alike, have denounced sequestration for the most part, and yet here we are. so i hope that we can work together to void this fiscal cliff, which will have such damaging effects for the people of this nation. thank you, mr. president. mrs. shaheen: thank you very much for your kind wards, senator collins. i know that we both care a great deal about the situation that we're in, as i think most of the
members of this body do. and what's so frustrate something that it's avoidable. this is not something that has to happen because we're facing a crisis. this is happening because of what we have done and our actions. and so we can undo these actions, as you point out. and i share your belief that we need a comprehensive solution. we've got to look at all aspects of the budget, that we need to look at domestic, defense spending, mandatory programs, and we need to look at revenues -- comprehensive tax reform. that's a way that we can address that. and there are areas of bipartisan agreement that we ought to be able to take action on right away. you know, we've had a number of g.a.o. reports that make recommendations on duplicative programsing within government. we're already working to control the long-term cost of health care, to close tax loopholes and
on defense spending we all know that there are still refrms that can be done. as you pointed out, we can get better fiscal controls, we can end of th some of the fraud ande in defense contracting. that's just the beginning of a list that i'm sure if we all dedicated ourselves to coming up with a compromise on how we avoid the sequester, we could do that. and we should not delay because our failure to resolve this issue is having damaging effects on our economy and it's only going to get worse if we don't find a solution. so, again, i thank you, senator collins, for your commitment to address this challenge that we face, for your willingness to come down and engage with me and to work -- for us to work together along with with our colleagues to try and get a resolution so we don't have these devastating cuts go into effect. thank you very much, mr. president.
we yield the floor. mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president -- mr. levin: if the senator would just yield for one moment without losing his right to the floor. before the senators from new hampshire and maine yield the floor, i want to commend them for their statements, for their conversation. it is so i didn't think cal important that we avoid se the more senators and members of the house that look for ways on a bipartisan basis to avoid it, the better. we've still only got two weeks left to go but with the kind of energy and creativity that these two senators bring to this body, it makes me little bit more hopeful that we're going to be able to avoid this unbelievably bad outcome. so i want to thank both senators and i thank my friend from oklahoma for yieldin yielding ft mo. mr. inhofe: thank you. let me first of all respond to the chairman of the armed services committee. we talk about the anguish -- we
had a hearing yesterday where we had the service chiefs -- had everybody else in there -- talking specifically about the disasters that are going to be taking place should we go through with the type of sequestration that is out there right now. and it's one that i don't think most members of this body are fully -- fully understand. what it means not just to this country and our ability to defend our country but to each of the individual states. i know in my state of oklahoma, you know, i look at tigger air force base with 16,000 civilian employees. you know, what is going to happen there? how can we continue -- anyway, let me just wind up that part by saying that i've been ranked as the most conservative member for many years. but i always say, i am a big spender in two areas -- national
defense and transportation and infrastructure. because i think that's what we're supposed to be doing here. but let me just, first of all, mention that the majority leader a short while ago was kind enough to call my office and tell me he could save me a trip to the floor by coming down and recognizing that i would be objecting to going to the consideration of the -- of the -- of the nomination of former senator hagel to be secretary of defense. and i have been opposed to this for quite sometime. and the reason that we wanted to do this -- take this step -- and, first of all, let me explain, mr. president, this is not a filibuster. i keep getting stopped by people out in the hall, oh, we're going to filibuster -- who's going to filibuster? it's not a filibuster. this is something where you are objecting to moving to it. and if it's the desire of the majority to move to it, in spite
of the fact that we object, all they have do is have a 60-vote margin. well, that's fine with me, if we have a 60-vote margin. there are, though, some things that i think, as the ranking member of the senate armed services committee, that i'm obligated to do for the members of the committee. first of all, that vote in the committee was 100% partisan vote. every republican there voted against moving that hagel nomination out of committee. well, there has to be a reason for that. and one of the reasons -- the major reason, i would say -- and if you don't believe this, go back and look at the tape of the meeting yesterday where many of our members said, why is it we're having to rush in to the confirmation of chuck hagel to be secretary of defense when he has not given us the information that we have requested? one such member is in the -- is the junior member from texas in the chamber with me right now.
but let me first clarify that there's nothing unusual about requesting a 60-vote threshold. this happens all the time. i can remember when the majority leader agreed to a 60-vote threshold in the 2009 nomination of kathleen sebelius. she went on -- she was in that position. well, there's nothing unusual about that. john bryson -- john bryson was the one that was nominated to be the secretary of commerce, and there are several of us who had concerns about him. he was ultimately confirmed, but he was confirmed with a 60-vote margin. and i can remember when the majority leader -- let me say this about the majority leader. he's been exceptionally good to me on things that i've been involved in. i have two major bills that were my bills. one was in concert with barbara boxer, the highway bill, that i -- frankly, i couldn't have gotten it passed without him. and my pilots bill of rights is
one that was hung up. i couldn't get a hearing on it in the committee. i have tried for a year, and he stepped in and helped me do this. and i have said in national publications that i could not have gotten it passed without leader harry reid. so we have a very good relationship. and i think that's one that we're going to maintain through this thing. and i would say that senator reid on numerous occasions was concerned about republican nominations. during the bush era we had steven johnson. steven johnson, who incidentally, was a democrat for the e.p.a. administrator. i thought he'd be good. i think that there are several democrats that thought he would not be good, and so harry reid did what he's supposed to do. he interceded in behalf of the democrats who opposed him. well, they had a 60-vote margin. that's fine. they got 61 votes. dirk kempthorne was one that there was objection to. he was up for -- most of you
remember him, a former senator from utah. he was up for the secretary of interior, and there are some people objecting to him. and of course that was back during the bush administration. he was nominated and he went ahead and he was confirmed. it was a 60-vote margin. there's nothing unusual about this. getting back to steven johnson, this is even more analogous to what we have what now, because this is a republican president, a democrat majority, and it was a democrat -- in the senate for confirmation. and we wanted to get -- get this confirmation of this -- of steven johnson to be through to be e.p.a. administrator and to do that we had to have a 60-vote margin. but steven johnson was a democrat, so here we had the republicans wanting steven johnson -- the democrats not wanting steven johnson. very analogous to what we have today. today we have a former senator
chuck hagel, who is a republican, same analogous situation. so i guess what i am a trying to say is, there's nothing unusual about this. now, the press loves to talk about, well, it is a filibuster. it is not a filibuster. we're doing what we've always wanted -- when we wanted to get one through and had to go to a 60-vote margin. this has happened, and it's happened -- and it's happening right now. so here we have a situation where cloture has been filed by the majority leader. i have no objection to voting -- i don't want to wait. i don't want to string this out. i've got places to go other than hangening around here. and i would like to be able to do that. i'd vote tonight if we could just get the in fac informationt has been requested by the republican members of the senate armed services committee. keep in mind, that was 100% vote, all republicans voted against sending him out. why did they do it? they did it because we haven't gotten the information that we want. i have a letter here -- just a
-- let me just read a little bit of it. well, for one thing, i have a letter that i'm not going to read. this is a letter that's signed by all 25 -- by 25 republicans stating that we have not gotten the information we're entitled to, and i want to make that part of the record at this point in my presentation, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent -- the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: yes. but -- in looking at what i consider to be very reasonable, this is a letter sewned by several people. but it was really promoted more than by anyone else by the senator from texas, who has a concern over information that is not -- he's requested over and over and over again. i have personally heard senator cruz request this information just yesterday five different times and days before. now, in a previous letter, he said that we express our concern -- this is entering into this understanding on his behalf --
it is unnecessary -- the unnecessary rush to force through a vote on chuck hagel's nomination before he has been able to respond adequately to multiple requests from members of the armed services committee for additional information. those requests -- i'm reading from the letter. "those requests have included a request for disclosure on the personal compensation that he" -- we're talking about chuck hagel -- "has received in the last five years, information which is entirely within his own control --" in other words. he can do it. it's there. "they have included requests for additional disclosure on foreign funds that he may have received indirectly, and whether any such foreign funds may raise conflicts of interest." now why does he not want to disclose this? somehow he would like to be able to get confirmed without disclosing this information.
we've got a responsibility here, and i don't care if it's a democrat or republican, if a member of this committee is requesting this information and the information is available and he's unable to get it, what we've got here is a procedural process problem. this has nothing -- i object to the -- to chuck hagel's confirmation for other reasons that i think lead me to believe he would not qualify for that job. but others don't agree with that, and that's fine. but they have to agree on the process, because i can't remember -- and i've been on this committee in the house and senate for 25 years. i don't remember one time when information that was requested that was perfectly within the purview of our interest in the confirmation that was denied. this hasn't happened. this is the part that's unprecedented. i heard some other people say, well, it would be unprecedented to have a filibuster on a
cabinet appointee. that is not unprecedented. that's not what we're doing. this is unprecedented. so i go on to read in the letter, "they have included a request for a complete list of his prior public speeches, notably, multiple additional speeches on controversial topics that have been made public by the press." and i understand, i saw it -- didn't get a chance to read it, didn't have time. but i think it was on fox news today that there is going to come out tomorrow with some information concerning findings of speeches that have been made by former senator hagel that would certainly give rise to a lot of interest because we're talking about speeches that were made and paid for by foreign governments. some of these foreign governments, i understand, are not all that friendly to us. are we entitled to that? yeah, we're entitled to that. they have included a request for complete list of prior public
speeches, additional public speeches on controversial topics that have been made public and the press, despite those speeches having been omitted from his own disclosure. i remember in the early stages of this, requests were made of senator hagel on information that we knew was there because there have been things that have been written in the past. but in looking at it closely, they could argue maybe these particular speeches, they're not entitled to. i would disagree to that. i think they're entitled to anything. certainly a member of the armed services committee has that responsibility. they included critical request for the administration regarding additional information about the precise actions taken on september 11, 2012 following the tragic murder of four americans in benghazi. well, i don't know that those are still current. what i do know, though, is the information on request, has been
requested on speeches that have been made by the person who is up for confirmation to be secretary of defense to foreign countries. and we need to know what that is. so i would say to the majority leader, he has not been involved in a lot of the details. he doesn't have time to be involved in all the committees. but this is something that we really need to have. so it's not really on the merits. we're saying, just like we've said in numerous other times, not just john bryson and kathleen sebelius and dishing kemp thorn and -- and dirk kempthorne and steven johnson. i've got a list of several people. michael levitt. john bolton went through this several times. we remember miguel estrada. raoerpl -- we remember robert
portman. there is a problem with the process. that process is we've made requests, members such as senator cruz from texas, members of the senate armed services committee who have made perfectly reasonable requests for information -- in this case it's on speeches made to foreign governments, foreign audiences. that's a little scary right there. but it could be clarified in a matter of minutes. that's why there's really not any rush on this. this is something that could happen. it could happen tonight. that information is out there. i personally talked to senator cruz. he said, look, if they would just give us that information that we've been requesting now for weeks, then it's all over and we could have the vote tonight. of course that's our request. that's the reason for this. we're not talking about merits. we're not talking about substance. we are talking about a process. never before in my memory has the senate armed services' reasonable request been denied before someone has come up for
confirmation. it is a simple request. it's been done on a seg basis. 60-vote margin is not a filibuster. this is merely saying we are entitled to this information and we want to hold this up until we get it. maybe this will jar him loose. maybe we can get it now. i want to move this on and move it as rapidly as possible. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thanks, mr. president. could i ask unanimous consent that the pending quorum call be lifted? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you. mr. president, could i ask that i be permitted to speak as if in morning business for the next 15 minutes or so? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you. i'm here again to talk about the effects of climate change on the health of our families and our communities. just as we know secondhand smoke and too much sun exposure are bad for human health, we know pollution and variations in climate conditions are as well. and i want to thank our chairman
on the environment and public works committee, chairman boxer, for the briefing she held today with a number of scientists, including one who spoke specifically about the human health effects that we can see from climate change. climate change is threatening to erode the improvements in air quality that we have achieved through the clean air act. e.p.a. enforced emissions reductions have led to a decline in the number and severity of bad air days in the united states. these are the days that -- i know the presiding officer is familiar with because i'm sure they happen in connecticut as well as in rhode island -- where the air quality is so poor that it's unhealthy for sensitive individuals -- the elderly, infants, people with breathing difficulties -- to be outdoors. even healthy people are urged to limit their activities when out of doors. in rhode island, about 12% of
children and 11% of adults suffer from asthma. both are higher than the national average. our rhode island public transit authority runs free buses on bad ozone days to try to keep car traffic down because these days are so dangerous to the public. of course the major air pollutant behind bad air days is ozone, commonly known as smog. ground-level ozone, or smog, makes it difficult to breathe, causes coughing, inflames air aways, aggravates asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, makes lungs more susceptible to infection. that means asthma attacks, emergency room visits, hospitalization which in turn results in missed school, out of work and a burden not only of worry but also a burden on the economy. smog of course forms more quickly during hot and sunny days. so as climate change drives more heat, it increases the number of
warm days and the conditions for smog and for bad air days become more common. climate change is also prolonging allergy season. i'm sure there are a number of people listening who suffer from hay fever in the late summer and early fall. some people summer from it quite acutely. it is most often caused by ragweed pollen. and since 1995, ragweed season has increased across the country. it's increased by 13 days in madison, wisconsin. it's increased by 20 days in minneapolis, minnesota. it's increased by almost 25 days in fargo, north dakota. the farther north you go, the greater the increase in the ragweed season. so, for folks in fargo, for instance, it's 25 more days of sniffling and sneezing and 25 more days that ragweed pollen might trigger a child's asthma attack. not only does more carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere mean warmer weather and, therefore, longer pollen seasons, it also means a higher pollen count. at 280 parts per million, which was the concentration of atmosphere carbon back in the year 1900, each ragweed plant would produce about five grams of pollen. at 370 parts per million, which is where we are now, year 2000 levels, to be more precise, pollen production more than doubles. and it doubles again at 720 parts per million, which is the concentration that is now projected for the year 2075. so as we work to improve air quality and to reduce respiratory illnesses and allergic conditions that trigger respiratory distress, we need to fight the growing trigger: climate change. warming oceans and lakes can also harm our health.
higher water surface temperature is associated with harmful blooms of various species of algae. these blooms are often referred to as red tide. they deplete oxygen, block sunlight and they produce toxins. and the toxins are very often captured in, by clams and oysters and other shellfish. and when they're consumed, it can result in neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, which causes debilitating respiratory and gas prointestinal symptoms. a warming climate also is predicted to change the range of disease-spreading parasites, such as ticks and mosquitoes, with longer summers and shorter winters we'll face more exposure to these pests and to the diseases they can carry. we in new england and connecticut and rhode island and massachusetts of course are very familiar with lyme disease, which is a tick-born illness that can have very grave and
serious effects. slow and steady warming is also causing sea levels to rise, which threatens coastal infrastructure and human safety as well. in south kings town, rhode island, matunic beach road is the only means of access to approximately 500 homes and that road also covers the public water main. for years sustained erosion has eaten away at the beach and now the road is immediately vulnerable to storms. indeed it has been overwashed in recent storms. a breach in matunic beach road cuts off those 500 homes from emergency services and if it were damaging enough, could cut off their water. our water quality is also threatened. many of rhode island's wastewater treatment plants are in low lying areas in flood zones near the coast and it's the same story in many other states. in california, for example, rising sea level has put 29 wastewater treatment plants
responsible for 530 million gallons of sewage processing every day at increased risk of flooding. as we know, climate change loads the dice for more extreme weather. heat waves, drought, storms, all serious threats to human health and safety. climate change has led to the increase in the likelihood of severe heat waves. extreme heat causes heat exhaustion, can cause heat stroke. the need for air dngsing in heat waves also strains the power infrastructure which can cause electrical brownoutsouts and blackouts. this hinders emergency services and exacerbates wildfires and drought. these are the kind of conditions from extreme heat that led to literally tens of thousands of deaths in the record-setting russian heat wave of 2010. heavy rainfall can cause physical damage, flooding,
erosion and sewage overflow. the environmental protection agency estimates 118,000 sanitary sewer overflows occur annually from storms overwashing through combined sewer systems and overloading the system and being released directly into the open. releasing up to actually 860 billion gallons of untreated sewage and wastewater. in 2010, heavy rainfall and flooding caused millions of dollars in damage and spilled raw sewage in warrick, rhode island in my home state. the flood led to the temporary shutdown of the local wastewater treatment facility and these overflows like the one in warrick can result in beach closures, shellfish bed closures, contamination of drinking water supplies, and other environmental and public health problems. extreme rainfall meaning most both way too little and way too much rainfall promotes
waterborne outbreaks of disease. in the northeast united states, heavy rainfall has increased by 74% since my childhood in the 1950's. as we've seen with superstorm sandy, hurricane irene and hurricane creant crean --, katrina, they can require tens of balances billions of dollars to clean up. it allows storm surges to reach farther inland and create more damage than just a few decades ago. much of the east coast experienced flooding during superstorm sandy including southern rhode island. because of erosion and sea level rise, the storm surges on our shores can reach homes that were originally built hundreds of feet from the coastline. i had the experience of standing with a man who had a childhood home that had been through at
least three generations of family -- his family, he was now actually older than me and that childhood home which stood well back from the beach was canted towards the sea and tumbling into -- tumbling into the ocean and the ocean had claimed his home of multiple generations as its victim. this map shows by zip code where the 800,000 people displaced by hurricane ca tureen' sought -- katrina sought refuge. hundreds of thousands of people were strewn across every corner of the country. hundreds of thousands of lives were disrupted as a result. thankfully, not everybody is sleep walking through these alarming realities. in 2010, rhode island created our climate change commission which has identified risks to key infrastructure and has is analyzing data from events like hurricane sandy and the 2010 flood. other states have formed similar
commissions. i brought last night to our president's state of the union address grover fugate, executive director of our coastal resources management council which has to look at and address every day and plan for the effects of our rising sea level, increased storm activity, and the risk that that portends to the shores of our ocean state. for the past three years, rhode island has also been part of the regional greenhouse gas initiative, nicknamed reggie. along with our neighbors in connecticut and delaware and maine and maryland, massachusetts, new hampshire, and new york, and are vermont, our region caps carbon emissions and sells permits to emit greenhouse gases to power plants. this has created economic incentives for the states and our utilities to invest in energy efficiency and in renewable energy development. and consumers have reaped the
benefit of lower prices. in 2010 regional emissions were 45% below if annual cap so just last week the states announced an agreement to cap future emissions at the 2012 rate. i'm proud of the work done in my state and i know the presiding officer's home state of connecticut is working equally hard on this issue. we are working to both slow climate change and to prepare for what are now its inevitable effects. but sadly, when it comes to this particular threat to our national security, and to our prosperity, congress is asleep. and it's time for us to wake up. the health and safety of americans and of people all over the world is at risk. we must awaken to what is happening in the world around us and to the fact of the carbon pollution that we are emitting
the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: i ask that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the senate consider the following nominations, calendar numbers 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, and all nominations placed on the secretary's desk in the air force, army, marine corps and navy, that the nominations be confirmed en bloc, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, that no further motions be in order to any of the nominations, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action, that the senate then resume legislative session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: thank you. i ask unanimous consent that the senate proceed to a period of morning business with senators permitted to speak therein for ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection.
mr. blumenthal: i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the immediate consideration en bloc of the following resolutions which were submitted earlier today, senate resolution 31, senate resolution 32, senate resolution 33, and senate resolution 34. the presiding officer: without objection the senate will proceed to consider the resolutions. mr. blumenthal: i ask unanimous consent, mr. president, that the resolutions be agreed to, the preambles be agreed to, the motions to reconsider be laid on the table en bloc, with no intervening action or debate, and any statements related to the resolutions be printed in the record at the appropriate place as if read. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today it adjourn until 10:00 a.m. on thursday, february 14, that following the prayer and pledge, the journal be approved, the morning business be deemed expired, and
the time for the two leaders be reserved for their use later in the day and that following any leader remarks, the senate resume consideration of executive session and the nomination of senator hagel to be secretary of defense. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blumenthal: earlier today cloture was filed on the hagel nomination. that cloture vote is expected on friday. if there is no further business to come before the senate i ask that it be adjourned under the previous order. the presiding officer: the senate stands adjourned until senate stands adjourned until
>> we now go to the russell senate office building were rejoined at the top republican on the armed services committee, xander james inhofe and republican of oklahoma. let's just began at the headlines in the paper and president obama talk about this in his state of the union address. pyongyang raises the stakes with his third nuclear tests. what should be our policy towards directory of? >> first of all, we've got to keep in mind that there's a real serious problem. i can go back to 19981 hours watching north korea develop this nuclear capability and they did a multistage rocket that and when they said it would be 15 years. our intelligence had 15 years before they could do it. intelligence has been low and
not. we've got to demonstrate clearly that were going to keep her nuclear arsenal going to number two, missile defense system in place. i have to be very critical of president obama and that he's just kind of decimated our whole defense is to an area of her nuclear capability, you have to keep in mind, greta, and you remember the conversation with medvedev when you can tell putin after i'm reelected all have more latitude to do these rings? he's trying to talk about disarmament. the lesson we learned from this is those guys are serious. it's no longer like it was in the cold war we had the the soviet union, united states. they were predictable. no other countries, north korea,
syria, iran, the most serious one developing this capability. they treated other people of the middle east mind that. so it's very serious. what we need to do right now is make sure we are starting to modernize our nuclear arsenal and make sure we get the adequate number of ground-based readers. one of the things i most critical for years ago that president obama hard, not only was he disarming america but their fist generation fighter, doing away with the future combat system, but he took down the ground-based dirt in poland. we were ability not to protect america against something coming in from the east coast. we have ground-based interceptors from alaska to southern california, but we
don't have any on the other side. so something comes or not direction and i'm thinking i've iran, because our intelligence shows are going have capability by 2015, i'm not satisfied with the level of protection do not end. >> host: senator, this is one of the reasons why you opposed the nomination of chuck hagel to be defense secretary. is that right? >> guest: yes, that's correct. it is a nuclear disarmament and talladega. i love chuck hagel and all of that. he's made great sacrifices in the surface, but anyone who joins the group that says we want to have a nuclear free world sounds so good, but you don't lead by example. you don't say we're going to do away with tears because they may know china and russia and north korea and iran are all going to
do away with the capabilities. so that's one of the objections i have two chuck hagel, his nomination. >> host: u.s.a. to the papers he would reach a filibuster against his nomination. it looks according to the "baltimore sun" that all circuits are democrats and two of your colleagues are also going to support his nomination. in in fact it can be 60. >> guest: let me correct your first spirit are not filibustering. i have to do is demand a 60-vote margin. i'm doing that. in fact, almost all controversial appointments. cabinet level appointments end up with a 60-vote margin. yeah, you may be right. they may be right there and if so you'll see people change their votes so they can be in the prevailing side. that is something quite common.
but the problems i have with him, let's keep in mind coming yesterday we had a vote. everyone of the republicans voted against his confirmation and the reason is that very partially from what we just not talked about, the partially with the close relationship with countries like iran from the statements he's made about iran in the past and the problem is his attitude tours israel when he sat on al jazeera and agreed with al jazeera that israel is guilty of war crimes. this is the type of family find objectionable. >> on afghanistan, the president plans to cut the troop level at a quicker pace out of the country. your reaction. >> my reaction is set to give my reaction from service chiefs and
those mid-level officers and enlisted personnel. when i go to afghanistan come i sit down and talked these guys in the mess hall. i talked to the captains in the field, commanders, so what i would rather he do is not put up a target as to how much is going to do and have it budget driven, which these days. instead of my habit driven by commanders in the field. i can't tell you at the risk is going to be next week with a week after next month, but i do know many to be taken that information from the commanders in the field. >> the "washington post" that the president put this forward on a recommendation from general alan and this was the option by the general. >> you have to look at how many options to the general get to consider? on a general alan. i've agreed to respect. keep one thing in mind, greta. he is a soldier.
he is military. he works one salutes the commander-in-chief. the commander-in-chief has to be obama. many times, quite a few times, maybe not most, when we have a hearing in washington, the military will respond pretty well by the commander-in-chief and they pretty much fortify whatever policy he has. a good example is all this have to happen happened in benghazi. renew at the time absolutely unequivocally as the secretary of defense said on the night of the attack of the anzac service they are, we knew this was an organized terrorist attack and yet five days later, they go all over tv. they say this is just something you do to a video out there. you have to be careful about
this. it could be true if any president, not just obama, but they are going to reflect his vision and us is happening right now. >> host: senator inhofe, i'm sequestration and cuts to the defense department, are you willing to agree to closing corporate loopholes, other tax loopholes to avoid cuts to the military? >> guest: i know you believe that or he would not question the way you did get a novelty that appeared he can talk about loopholes, corporate taxes, all these things had the effect of increasing the price of goods and services. they'll end up in the public or the public will pay for it, just like on the minimum wage last night. you know who's going to pay for the increase. it's going to be you and me and everyone who's watching right now. it sounds good to liberals but we have to stop and also about
our problems, but it's not. let's not kid ourselves. >> host: sean, republican caller. hi, sean. >> caller: good morning. my question is with the nafta act that we have a lot of free trade going on, that we are supporting the overseas economy that are bolstering that prior to the groups that are over there because we're putting money into their groups by moving manufacturing outfits over there to support their economies. >> guest: let me first of all say to the caller that is one of those who voted against nafta in 1994. in fact, i lead the cause. the reason was because i wanted to be sure other countries were imposed. for example, in mexico, they had standards of transportation. we have laws in this country to
talk about safety standards, all the standards they did not comply with. it is not equal. it is not fair competition, so i post it. on the other hand, i feel differently because you're actually going to be importing or exporting more than we are importing in those countries. so i think that would be good. if you're concerned about moving manufacturing overseas, but then last night he should've been listening to most carefully with the president saying we don't care the fact that congress, house and senate refused to pass a cap-and-trade global warming. the reason they can get the vote to pass that is because that would constitute the largest tax increase in the history of america. and that is something i calculated to be in my state of
oklahoma to be $3000 from each family who pays the federal income tax from a state of oklahoma. now, what to get for a? if you believe greenhouse gases and emissions are causing global warming, that's fine. you can believe it. lisa jackson, director of the epa, in fact, obama's director made this statement in response, live on tv, to my question. if we pass this cap-and-trade, it's going to cost between $30,400,000,000,000 a year, largest tax increase in history this country. is this going to reduce co2 emissions? she said that while. the reason is the problem is that here. it's in china, india, mexico, other countries. those three have problems to manufacturing base moving overseas because they have to go
where there is energy and if we curtail or energy over here but that tax won't reduce emissions come is still manufacturing to go someplace. >> host: senator inhofe was the ranking member on the environment and public works committee and on the 113, besides the top republican on the senate armed services committee. bobby in birmingham, alabama, go ahead. >> caller: morning. how you doing, sir? i listen to the president last night. with all the things in north korea and other places, are we in a position right now to have a weaker military than what we had in 9/11? or should we have a stronger military? are we able to continue to scatter men all over the country and the best defenseless at home or should our military continue to be stronger?
>> guest: does not have to be stronger. bobby, i'm really glad you asked that because i'm remember when rumsfeld was set up for his confirmation as defense. i said you know the american people, they expected their kids are drafted to go off to war that they had the best of everything. and they don't think people think they do. a good example is a 1992 others in the house armed services committee before he came to the senate and as they witness the second 10 years will no longer need ground troops. i told rumsfeld up for confirmation, how do you handle this? had a demonstration at the best of everything for kids and they go to war? he said you have to go back to what we've averaged over the last 100 years. over the last hundred years, we have been been made 5.7% of gdp on defending america.
now, he said, keep in mind, this is when he set for confirmation. it was below 4% and now it's up on the sequestration, that could be 2%. so we've got to make america strong again. there is a tensor at the history of this country for the number one effort in the city of washington was to give us the strongest military that any country has nbo to defend against all contingencies. we don't have that anymore. if we go to sequestration is worse. you're from alabama comes locally harder because the number of shops per capita in the defense industry is greater than any other 50 states. >> host: jack next to bobby shaw. hi, jack. >> caller: i have just a quick comment on a previous caller and then a question for senator.
a caller called just recently in this segment, saying that mayo clinic didn't take medicare patients. that is incorrect for sure. now senator, you criticized iran for criticizing israel. i ever going criticize israel. i don't much like the state of israel and its not because israel is a nation composed of jewish persons. it's because israel acts unfortunately much like not the state. they have good settlement in occupied territory, which is absolutely against international law and is acknowledged as such by some of the leaders of israel. we have also bombed guys i repeatedly, bombed hospitals,
ambulances, citizens. that is collective punishment and that is also an acknowledged action by international law. >> host: i'm going to the senator respond. >> guest: i have to say that was the most painful 30 seconds i had to sit to listen to that. the true loyal friend in the middle east is israel and we worked out things that then. they are not strictly the beneficiary of her generosity. we are the beneficiary appears in many ways. the iron dome, all these things going on over there are things erupting every day. and say israel is not her best friend and partner. i meant to have him by my side.
he's just absolutely wrong. o-oscar chatsworth, new jersey, republican caller. >> caller: yes, good morning. it's been a long time on other people about on the loans coming from other countries. they barred money from our country to rebuild their country and even in high school, my teachers in high school said that england owed us so much money and they never repay. one thing these people are in the united states and they borrowed money from us. there's so many lung but other countries have borrowed money from eyes and are not paying it back.
i'm not sure that term, but instead of taking out of the u.s. citizens pocket by all these cats and cuts in services, why not go out of the country and carved out -- >> host: we got your point. senator. >> guest: we are a debtor. you've heard many people say and i'm sure the caller has heard people say is that we do something, we borrowed money from china. this is true. this is a serious problem we have. there's something to should not do overseas. after morrissey going to be chipped, we should not be sending any more f-16s into egypt. we do have friends there. frankly he believed the military is our friend, morrissey is not our friend. i've been leading the cause to
stop the flow of our f-16s into israel. we don't want to do it in a way that costs us $2.2 billion, which is why it came out of the hide of the military. there are problems out there. there are some groups that would not want to support and i have opposed, then the opposition and supporting. we've got to recognize your friends are. friendship goes both ways and we need our friends. >> host: senator inhofe, mrs. oversight of gop on twitter this is according to law, we save $700 billion. why not replace sequestration cut with this? >> guest: first of all 15 eastern medical setting. two weeks ago when we saw this is coming, in the obama sequestration is going to be cutting into areas, domestic and
defense. i'm concerned more about the defense. i want to have again were going to do everything. if it's not avoided by better at the caller is suggesting. talk to all five service chiefs that you are the same topline and spend the same amount of money to sequestration our defense, but rearranged is going to be even more of a disaster. but the secretary of defense, said this would be a disaster for america. it would be less of a disaster every day just at the caller is talking about and what i'm talking about.
>> host: senator james inhofe, republican of oklahoma, top ranking member of the armed services committee. thank you for spending time with us this morning. >> guest: thank you, greta. >> earlier today, the federal appellate judge in maine began consideration of chuck hagel's nomination to be defense secretary. we are expecting a procedural vote friday mr. hippo's nomination without an agreement in the senate to a vote with mr. hippo. >> host: after president elect andrew jackson's wife died in december 1828, her niece, andrew thomas and play the role of first lady. >> for the night at his washington had to say, they left emily. the women all lecture and the women's opinions was in
washington. , emily became his acting first lady. she entertained beautifully. she was polished. some people thought she was rude and rustic from the country. she know exactly how to do that. >> ahead of the congressional budget office, douglas elmendorf testified before the house committee today. here's a few methodist testimony and effects of the automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect march 1st. >> could you tell me, dr. elmendorf, in terms of the
negative economic impacts of sequester, .6%, what does that translate into in terms of lost jobs? >> so our estimate is that the sequester alone will reduce gdp growth this year by 0.6 percentage points, lowering the level of gdp at the end of the year. we think that would reduce the level of employment at the end of the year by 750,000 jobs. >> 750,000 jobs now and in this calendar year 2013, right-click >> yes, congressman. >> that's that's a whole lot of jobs obviously we should be working overtime to prevent that kind of job loss. if you were to replace the deficit reduction through that austerity program, because the sequester what the plan that accomplish the same deficit
reduction spread over the ten-year period, you would not have that had jobs, if i right-click >> that's right, congressman. >> we've heard about the defense says. this is not sort of the congressional budget office and the republican leader, mr. cantor had it exactly right by september on the floor of the house when he said he allowed the sequester take place, quote, unemployment would sawyer. it was set back progress on the economy and he cited an estimate that the sequester would cost 200,000 jobs in the state of virginia alone. that is the sequester for the full year we were able to prevent the sequester for the first two months very balanced approach, combination of cuts and revenue should be the model going forward in the model we've apply to prevent sequester. there's been a lot of attention because the cuts in nondefense
as a result of the sequester on a dollar for dollar basis, and is that result in the same amount of jobs lost? >> guest: >> quite similar dollar for dollar, the economic effects depends on defense spending in nondefense spending occurs. there could be small differences, but basically you're right that if the government is paying people to build battleships are paying people to build other sorts of equipment or structures, those who have comparable effects dollar for dollar. >> to report cites revenues have returned from 2012 to the ten-year average basically. >> i'm sorry, i don't have it in front of me, congressman haired >> the revenue to the federal government is higher than the
ten-year average. that being the case if we look at the deficit to two guys named about $450 billion and a deficit in 2012 with revenue returning to the 2008 levels. the thing driving at this point is lower than they have been, but spending is higher than it has been. is that an accurate statement? >> you are right but spending is going up very sharply. the problem he faces perspective of many americans now starting to retire. there are benefits they expect individually. the fact that they are by 10 and 20 years ago doesn't appear to time as the benefits are getting, but you could multiply by a lot more people that the
aggregate spending goes up and that's the challenge you and your colleagues face. >> it is indeed. we look forward to working through the pressure process of the saving strength and insecure programs as opposed to move in the direction of essentially lopping off funding for those programs at the expense of those beneficiaries is a debate we will have. >> see more of douglas doug elmendorf's testimony on capitol hill tonight on c-span 2 at 8:00 p.m. eastern. >> he thought she was the smartest person he ever nail any know how much she loves him and he nail that she would tell them the truth. she wasn't going to -- >> sugarcoat. >> that's right. she was not going to sugarcoat. one of the tapes that cannot is
the one where she's analyzing speech. he asked her to do it, but she was really tough on him. mother of us would start right. but she says now, i think you should do -- and he would tell me all the time, your mother has the best judgment of anybody. should always listen to your mother. and he was just devoted to her. >> we have a habit in this country, if i may say so now, fussing over presidents. we decided that their bald eagles and they'll have to be treated as if they're symbols of the country. what that means though, is you
have -- you have a sneaking over the the rough edges. and there is a feeling among modern precedent that they have the right to a certain veneration and veneration will be located in the presidential library. even if they're gone, they are children some cases on their former allies. they last longer than presidents because they're younger. in many ways, they are more ferociously committed to the legacy, not because it involves time, but the old man is gone and they want to show their loyalty. the problem is, what does the government do because is responsible for these libraries when you have a flat president? >> as the senate was considering
chuck hagel's nomination to be defense secretary today, the current secretary, leon panetta output is likely his last news conference as member of the president's cabinet. he discussed north korea, afghanistan, the automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect next month and he announced a new military award called the distinguished warfare model. >> you're on your own, kid. [laughter] good afternoon. as you know, this is, i believe, my final press conference here at the pentagon briefing room. there are moments when i thought i was part of the last act of an italian opera and not sure exactly when it went and then when the fat lady was seen.
, but i think that the congress will act and that they will confirm chuck hagel this week. what i wanted to do was come use this opportunity to first about thank you all, all of the part of the press corps here in the press in general. throughout my 50 years in public service, i have always believed, and believed very deeply in the role of the price. because i believe deeply in the role of the american people and our democracy. the information is the key to an informed electorate. and while we may or may not agree with every story, and the grand scheme of things, because
of the work of the prize, i believe the truth always comes out. and in the end, we cannot really serve the american people well unless we deal with the truth. and so, my thanks to all of you for the role you play in helping present that to the american people. what i would like to do is obviously through the press, express once again my deepest thanks to our true and to the american people and to the president of the united states for the distinct honor of serving as secretary of defense. i was recalling that the group today but i went through rotc in college and nighttime when you
graduated, it's like one of those old movies where you had your graduation gowns over your military uniform. received my degree and then we took off our gowns and then in our uniforms received her commissions. little did i doubt the time that happened at santa clara university but ultimately i would be here serving as secretary of defense. this has for me than a very distinct privilege and honor to have had this opportunity. then use this opportunity before i open it to questions to make a few comments on some issues. first of all, during my time as structure of the cia and secretary of defense, i have seen firsthand how modern tools like remotely piloted platforms in cybersystems have changed the
way wars are five and that given our men and women, the ability to engage the enemy and engage the course of battle even from afar. i have always felt having seen the great work that they do day in and day out, that those who performed an outstanding manner should be recognized. unfortunately, metals that the otherwise may be eligible for, simply did not recognize that kind of contribution. and for that reason, recognizing these technological advances, i am pleased to announce that i formally approved the establishment of a new distinguished warfare model. the model provides distinct
recognition for the extraordinary achievements that directly in fact a combat operations. that combat entails. our military reserves his pious declarations were who have died actions for their lives are on the line and we will continue to do so. we should also have the ability to honor the extraordinary actions that make a true difference in combat operations in the work that they do, contribution they make does contribute to the success of combat operations, particularly when they were both the enemy from the field of battle. even if those actions are removed from the site.
as a distinguished warfare model, the department now has that ability and that will be reserved only for those who have met the highest standards. this award recognizes the reality of the kind of technological warfare that we're engaged in the 21st century. let me also comment on some other recent events. first, obviously you want to join president obama in condemning the apparent north korean nuclear test. they are still evaluating that to determine exactly whether or not it really was a nuclear test. this highly provocative act was a clear violation of the united nations security council resolutions and north korea's own commitments under the party -- six party talks. the regime's actions are undermining regional security.
the regime's actions are increasing the risks of proliferation. and further, isolating north korea from the international community. there is no question that north korea constitutes a threat to the united states, to regional stability and to global security. a combination of the recent missile test combined with what apparently was this nuclear test we believe represents a real threat to the united states of america. make no mistake the u.s. military will take all necessary steps to meet our security commitments to the republic of korea into our regional allies. i was pleased yesterday that the u.n. security council condemned north korea's actions. this is a strong first step as we work to increase the pressure
on the regime with new sanctions and new steps that we hope to take with regards to our presence in that area. turning next to the state of the union address, was very pleased that the president made clear that the looming budgetary cuts could really jeopardize military readiness. as you know, my deputy, ash carter, and the joint chiefs of staff have been on the hill making a strong case for why we need to resolve the second self-inflicted crisis. i would again strongly urge the congress to heed these warnings. and as i said last week, this is not a game. this is reality. the fact is that even as they speak, people are being hurt.
people are being hurt by the budget uncertainty that this country is now living under. there are salaries that are being cut. there are jobs being lost. there's readiness that is being impacted. the uncertainty is hurting people and it's hurting our country. members of congress need to understand that they were elected to protect the public, not to hurt the public. and i hope to remember that i say hopefully work towards a resolution of this issue. afghanistan, let me put the announcement last night into the context of the broader campaign. when i became secretary of defense in 2011, the search for
lien placed the number of american troops on the ground at that time sat at about 100,000. these additional forces have it handed our footprint and provided the combat power necessary to disrupt the insurgency and push it out of its traditional stronghold, particularly in the south. in the months since coming united states and coalition forces have partnered closely with the afghan forces, which now have ground to a full strength of 352,000 personnel. those afghan forces are now leading nearly 90% -- 90% of security operations across the country. they are an elite for security for more than three quarters of the afghan population and they have retained security gains even as the united states has drawn down the surge forces that we had a 33,000. over the past several months,
general allan conducted a thorough assessment of the isaf campaign planned and recommended to draw down from 34,000 additional troops in a phased approach over the coming year. in consultations with the administration, i strongly supported general allan's recommendations. i was very pleased that the president decisions announced last night excepts general allan's recommendations and puts his family on a path, i believe, to fulfill our mission in afghanistan. from now until the end of 2014, i am confident that general showed done for her a position to have the power he needs to continue building up the capabilities of the afghan national security forces. the united states, nato and the afghan government agreed in lisbon in 2010 and a firm in
chicago last year that afghanistan will assume full responsibility for security by the end of 2014. we are well on track for that goal and we will maintain a long-term commitment to afghanistan, including the continued training and equipment of afghan forces and counterterrorism operations against al qaeda and their affiliate. with the continuing dedication and sacrifice of our troops, i'm fully confident as i prepare to hand over my responsibilities as secretary of defense that we will prevail in denying al qaeda a safe haven from which to attack our homeland. as i stated at the beginning, this will be my last press conference here in the pentagon briefing room, so let me close by saying the following. first of all, i am very proud of the achievements we've been able to accomplish in the time i've been secretary of defense.
first and foremost to boycott the country safe. secondly, we have been dedicating ourselves to bring in two wars a conclusion. the war in iraq and now we are well on the way to bring in the war in afghanistan hopefully to a conclusion as well. we have made significant gains in weakening terrorism and i can say that i am proud of my contribution as both director of the cia and secretary of defense. i will carry the memory of having worked on the bin laden operation with the cia for some time to come. as a special operation connected a great deal to keep this country safe. the other efforts to undermine
the leadership of al qaeda by both military and intelligence operations working together and probably the finest example i've seen in my time but the military and intelligence operations coming together to go after the enemy who attacked this country. they think it has done a great deal, not only to weaken al qaeda, but to weaken and undermine their ability to attack this country in the future. i am proud of the defense strategy we put in place. became obviously what we were presented with having to reduce defense budget by half a trillion dollars, but i i think the defense strategy makes good sense for this country in terms of the force would need for the 21st century. but i've hope ultimately to receive this or give any tunic. strategy a reality for the
future. i'm also proud of having the opportunity to expand opportunities for her to serve in the military. i am a deep believer in not for my own background and i believe everybody deserves a chance to succeed. there are no guarantees, but everybody does deserve a chance to be able to succeed. and i'm proud of the care that we continue to provide for our wounded warriors and for their families. they are truly deserving of whatever we can provide because of the sacrifices they've made. most of all i remain proud and honored to have led those very brave warriors as secretary of defense. they put their lives on the line. they are brave men and women who sacrificed in order to keep our country safe and to make the united states the strongest military power in the world.
and lastly, again, let me state that a vigorous and informed press is vital to our democracy and the department of defense and the american people have been very fortunate to have some of the best journalists in the business in our press. i've had the opportunity to interact regularly with you to travel with many of you and to share a meal and share a few drinks were to put some of you. i've always been impressed by your professionalism, dedication and fairness. your work has helped me to do better by the men and women in the military. so when i depart this briefing room for the last time, note that i deeply thank you for your commitment to informing people around the world but the work of the department of defense and sacrifices of those brave
americans fighting and serving on the front lines. in a sense, we're all working for is a common mission of keeping our country safe, giving our children a better life than their parents believe them as americans -- as immigrants coming to this country and in defending and strengthening the government by and for all people. but that, and happily take your questions. spin that mr. secretary, thanks for your willingness to come into the briefing room on a regular basis and take your questions. we hope your successor follows your example. i'll ask you a question about north korea. he mentioned are still assessing the nuclear tests. one question was slow to other indications as a plutonium device for uranium device? more broadly, which you say knowing what you know about north korea and the evolution of this program, would you say they
are now a nuclear power? and what sort of deterrent actions is the u.s. considering taking now on the military sort? >> you know, we obviously are continuing to try to evaluate and assess whether the tests they conducted with infecting nuclear test and we are still in the process of doing that, so i can't give you an answer to that question, but there is no question that north korea has continued to enrich fuel. they've conducted tests in the past and i think the combination of their continuing pursuit of not only a nuclear weapon, but their continuing pursuit of developing intercontinental ballistic missile capability represents, as i said, a real threat to the united states. he continued to be engaged in provocative behavior. they are isolating themselves from the rest of the world.
russia, china and almost whole world has can and what they've done. as a result of that, it should be -- it should be of great concern to the international community that they are continuing to develop their capabilities to threaten the security, not only south korea, but the rest of the world. and for that reason, i think we have to take steps to make clear to them at that kind of behavior is unacceptable. spin that can you describe in any way actions or type steps come as you put it come you contemplate on taking? >> it's a combination of other things we have to do now. when his diplomatic steps that have to be taken. the security council together to condemn their actions is very
important to or can i see international community to do that. i believe that this morning i talked with the defense minister of south korea we both agreed that we ought to make sure that we make clear that we are going to continue to conduct exercises. were going to continue to deploy our forces in that area. we are going to continue to show the north koreans that we are fully prepared to do with any contingencies. we are going to with south korea and japan to try to develop the kind of defense systems that we need and i think we have to do everything necessary to increase our missile defenses with regards to that drive.
>> now that you're leaving and you may be old to be more candid, the bin laden operation, certainly as you mentioned, very central to those places, what can you tell us now that we don't know about the operations? [laughter] you know, the one thing -- >> it wasn't james gandolfini who did that. last mac >> let me ask you the one thing you wanted to tell america that you haven't been able to until you retire. but did you have a moment at some point when you were worried, maybe the helicopter, maybe something else that it might not go as smoothly, does she think it might be wrong but he was there. and as you also look back now, who was bin laden at the end of it all? was he some boating lake she hottie? was he a threat?
to be a credible plots? who was this guy? >> just a couple thoughts here. it ain't first and foremost that bin laden remains the inspirational leader for al qaeda and that continued to make him dangerous. you know, he obviously was not close to the frontlines of al qaeda, but he continued to stay in touch. he continued to communicate with fans and for that reason, he continued to remain dangerous in terms of the leadership he could provide in developing a kind of 9/11 type attack that we were the victim of. so without question, he remained a dangerous threat to the united states. the operation itself, you know, i always get asked about the movie and as i said, i basically lived that operation. there's no way you can take
everything down over 10 years past the time i was there and try to put it into our movie. it just doesn't work that way. what i saw in the time i was there as a professional intelligence operation that was able to determine the location of the compound and about a broad. and yet if everybody does, despite all the work done on the intelligence side, and agreed to was, and we were putting bits and pieces together that we never had 100% confidence that bin laden was located there. and so, it was always very risky because we didn't know it was bin laden and whether it might be someone else.
it's all bin laden, but very frankly we do not have a hundred%. when we went into the discussions on the operations to be conduct did, there were a lot of different views that were presented by race questions and concerns about whether or not we should do this. a remain very confident that with the information we have on bin laden since tora bora that it was for us not to ignore but we had to take action and going and determine whether or not an obviously there were moments when we were all nervous about what was happening. you know, what gave me confident that we had to proceed as a confidence i had in this conduct in the operation.
the capability they do these every night in afghanistan. they do than 10 or 12 times a night. but tremendous confidence in indiana and that confidence bruce's work while. >> were dusan on the potential prosecution, will that get underway before you leave this post? india has anything on the controversial "esquire" magazine that claims that the bin laden shooter was quote, screwed by the military after he retired? >> guest: i don't know where that matter stands. i know that has considered taking action on that, but i don't know where that matter stands. likely it is i be there there when those steps are taken. on the "esquire" news article, i
haven't read the article you are basing. but you know, look, the operations conducted by special forces are outstanding and devote tremendous risk aired yesterday we gave a medal of honor to sergeant romesha and this kid is out there in the middle of nowhere with 400 taliban and in the middle east and he's tremendously courageous and tremendously brave and taking them on saving not only fellow soldiers, but ultimately saving database. ask about bravery and courage go on often every day in a war zone and i just think it's difficult to think that everybody who
performs in that kind of fashion that somehow we have to establish, you know, a separate fund to try to assist them. the reality is that men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day. it's a sacrifice for this country. and i think the great thing about this country is that there are those that are willing to do that and not worry about whether or not they're going to get an award for additional pay, but they just do it because they love this country. >> secretary, why did you, general dempsey and secretary clinton recommend that the u.s. provide weapons to the rebel forces in syria? were you disappointed the white house turned that down? and do you think is the result of that that this war could go on endlessly?
>> will, izvestia very direct direct question by senator mccain. i gave my direct answer and i'm not going to go into the discussions that were held on this issue other than to say there were a lot of variables in a lot of issues that were discussed. the president made a decision and i supported that position. i would say syria obviously remains of tremendous concern in the situation remains of great concern, particularly with what iran is doing for him going and assisting there in syria. the al qaeda front, the nusra front is now participating on the opposition side. in addition to that, has paula seems to be more active there as well. and you know, when you look at the whole situation in the lives lost in syria, it's not only a
tragic situation, it is a situation, which can develop into a much more chaotic situation that can create in the march turmoil in the middle east and for that reason, the international community work in the united states has to take steps to do whatever we can to ensure that assigned to step down with a peaceful transition. >> if i could, has general allen talked to you about possibly withdrawing his name from nomination of becoming supreme commander in europe? >> yeah, john allen has, as all of you know, has been a tank and outstanding commander for the united states. i think history, when it looks back on the afghanistan war, we'll look at the role played by
john allen in theaters pivotal in terms of the direction they changed what he was in command and the direction set by hand has put us on a path towards completing the mission. he's been under a tremendous amount of pressure. a lot of challenges, a lot of work has had to engage in combat a lot of policy decisions he's had to work on in terms of the recommendations. so john allen came home with the opportunity to meet yesterday. my recommendation to hand was take your time, be with your family come to think about what you need to do. i think your country will always find a way to make use of your great services, but you've got to make a decision as to what you want to do in the future. >> mr. secretary, can you talk about the accomplishments of the department and thinks you're proud of? i wonder who could focus a little bit on any particular disappointments during your tenure here?
besides the budget sequestration. [laughter] may be something that you couldn't resolve in your time here or couldn't deal with adequately during your tenure that is going to have to be left to your successor. any disappointments in particular? >> you know, i really have to say, and i expressed this to the team here. i've been honored to have been a great team here at the pentagon. a great military team. general dempsey, all the service chiefs have been outstanding, just as standing in the work they have done. all of the civilian personnel, under secretaries and staff and others have just had a very good team, working on a number of issues. and you know, every one of the
tough issues they had to confront, i've always felt they had the best advice and best guidance that we were able to get things done. to be frank, i put a lot of burdens on the military, working through a lot of the tough decisions that we've made. they always responded. they responded in a fashion of dedication to country and dedication to the military. we have been able to do historic inns as a result of that. you know, i guess if there's anything that i am always disappointed by is that, you know, all of the work that we do here to try to make this country strong and develop a strong defense, i'm sorry about this,
but i've got to say the partnership of the congress and the ability to have congress they are, to be able to support what is being done to protect this country, that i've been very concerned that what should be and what our forefathers they think invasion as a strong bond between an administration and the executive branch and legislative branch to help govern this country, that that bond is not as strong as it should be and often times i feel like i don't have a full partnership with my former colleagues on the hill in trying to do what's right for this country. i don't pretend we always make great decisions. we make mistakes, but what i look for our members who are
willing to work with us, to try to work through some tough issues and be able to find solutions. we need to find solutions. we can't just sit here and age. we can't just sit here and complain. we can't figure them play mothers and point fingers at each other. they can't figure and gave sound bytes and try and make points, political points. we've got to solve real problems facing this country. this country is facing real threats in the world. i mean, this is not a time when we can take a deep breath and ascend the rest of the road is going to be fine. we are facing real threats. as i've pointed out before, we can't do this alone. we've got to do this at the full partnership with the congress and both houses of the congress. i just have to say the disappointment i have in the 50 years have been in this town,
particularly as a member of the congress, i always felt that leadership in the congress and leadership with whatever administration was involved that when it came to issues facing this country, but there is a willingness to resolve those issues. and i was part of that and frankly, would've make great experiences in the congress was being able to work on budget issues, other issues with the support of both parties have supported the leadership. somehow, someway we've got to get back to that for the sake of this country. >> has your successor given any confirmation will have been even more difficult relationship in typical partnership with congress. following up on your answer on general alan, clearly did he indicate the likelihood that he may not go for the eucom job? >> no, he did not.
and at&t's two and coming back first and foremost was pleased that the president accepted his recommendations that he had with regard to the afghan drawdown contact a great deal about the situation there and some of the issues we have to continue to confront. i told you what what i care to his personal plans for the future but obviously we have tremendous confidence in him, but i'd prepared in my capacity to do whatever i can to make sure that he serves his country capacity he wants to serve his country. we've just got to take some time to be able to be with your family and then think about what you want to do. >> time for one more. >> on the first issue -- >> on the partnership between hegel --
[inaudible] >> it was kind of in full display. i think when you see some of the debate -- in the congress, the thing that makes the congress work is still always have differences. there was the party differences, always political differences, ideological differences. that's the whole purpose of our forefathers fashion and that legislative branch is to debate fully those differences. there are also some lines that are there that make that process work, lines that involve mutual respect. lines that involve courtesy and a degree of respect for each of each other despite whatever their decision are. and you kind of see that
breaking down in this process. it becomes too personal. it becomes to mean. i mean, look, everybody's got legitimate points, but there's a way to express it in a way that complements our democracy, doesn't he mean our democracy. i think what you see on display is too much meanness and i really do think that they've got to get back to a process where there is a weird beasties in the house of representatives. hopefully it is still used, which is the greatest respect, with the greatest respect or disagree with my friend. but there's a reason for that because this respect not just for that individual or respect for the congress and somehow members both on the house in genocide have to get back to a point where they really do respect the institution that they are part of.
[inaudible conversations] >> after four years of the current administration in the second term, which is a good reputation of this country is in the eyes of the rest of the world? >> wherever i've gone throughout the world and obviously traveled a great deal in this job and had the opportunity to work with partners everywhere in the world, everywhere i have gone, i think there is a recognition that the united states of america is a great power in the world that our values, what we believe in is in large measure what gives us the strength that we have for leadership in the world with even. i think what they worry about is what i worry about, which is
whether or not, you know, we can gather and whether or not we can face a tough decisions have to be made and resolve this. i think the present budget uncertainty is something that other countries look at to determine whether or not we can resolve that. that's why i said over talk about national security, the greatest concern for national security is that ability to covering and combined solutions. so i think the united states is viewed as strong in terms of military power, strong in terms of values, strong in terms of what we represent to the rest of the world. strong in terms of wanting and needing our leadership in the ability to work with them and develop. but there is a nervousness about their about whether in fact
ultimately we can rise to the challenge of governing ourselves and finding answers to the tough issues for confronting. thank you pray much, guys. [applause] >> amalie was perfect. for all the negatives washington had to say, they loved emily. the women all liked her and as it happened, it was the women's opinions that meant more than people thought in washington. the sheet, emily, became his acting first lady. she entertained pitifully pictures polish. some people thought she was rude